Hat's off

Aug. 15, 2003
Designers and builders are absorbing more and more food plant services that once were performed in house
Design and construction firms wear so many hats these days that the butter-colored helmets we've all come to associate with job sites may be the least them. In fact, most major designers and builders have moved well beyond the realm of mere bricks and mortar, and routinely expertise in a host of areas, from asset management and financial and real estate planning to facilities engineering and management. A handful, including Spartanburg, S.C.-based Lockwood Greene and Cincinnati-based architect/engineer Hixson, even provide team process training, which focuses on team building, technical training and other related services. Many design and construction firms began to provide such services in the mid to late 1980s, not only as a natural extension of their core practices, but also as a buffer from the cyclical downturns in manufacturing construction. If clients, including food companies, were initially reluctant to outsource these activities, many have since come to recognize the wisdom of doing so, particularly processors seeking to reduce their labor force and operations expenses. Additionally, the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions in the food industry has propelled many food companies into uncharted waters, at least where facility and asset management are concerned. How best to consolidate the resources, plants and operations of two or three newly joined companies? And where? And at what cost? Because they have been planning, designing and building a variety of plant facilities for years, design and construction firms serving the food industry say they can bring a wealth of perspective and experience to the process, as well as a fresh set of eyes. "The bigger the vision, the tougher the problem," Pribula says. "Currently, we're working a company that has 15 or 16 facilities. So the question becomes, what categories are best for consolidation in terms of efficiency, cost savings, logistics and so forth. A lot of companies are trying to get away from performing these functions in house. We had one client that was burned to many times trying to perform its own internal estimates we became its business manager in the area asset management," says Scott Pribula, "Now they use our business as a resource for everything."  In addition to asset management, everything, in Stahlman's case, has come to include financial consulting for commercial equipment and facilities, financial and real estate planning and maintenance training. According to Pribula, many of Stahlman's key personnel in these areas tend to be veterans of warehousing and production in general, or food processing and warehousing in particular. "We often find that solutions  that work in one industry or sector may well be applicable to another," Pribula says. "The diversity of our experience allows us to make a better assessment of a situation."SIDEBARThe full menu Food plant designers and builders collectively offer a wealth of services, most notably:Business planning

1)       Asset management2)       Financing 3)       Financial consulting4)       Financial planning5)       Real estate planning6)       Risk management7)       Space planning Plant services

1)       Energy management2)       Facilities operation3)       Maintenance programs4)       Pest Control5)       Ground care 6)       Security7)       Raw material sourcing Training services

1)       Computer training2)       Environmental training 3)       Maintenance training4)       Problem solving/decision making5)       Systems analysis6)       Team building and training7)       Technical training Who's Building?Food's 20 biggest construction spenders* 2002                                                       2001 1  Pepsico Inc.                                        2 2  Kraft Foods Inc.                                   1 3  General Mills Inc.                                 9 4  Archer Daniels Midland                         4 5  Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.                    3 6  Tyson Foods                                       13 7  Conagra Foods Inc.                              6 8  Sara Lee Corp.                                     5 9  Coca-Cola Enterprises                          710 Kellogg Co.                                         1211 Adolph Coors                                      1412 Campbell Soup Co.                             1113  Starbucks Corp.                                 1814  Dole Food Co.                                    1515  McCormick & Co.                                ,16  Pilgrims Pride Corp.                            1717  Smithfield Foods Inc.                          1918  Hormel Foods Corp.                            16 19  Del Monte Foods Co.                          2020  Dreyers Grand Ice Cream Inc.               ,*Source: ENR Magazine. Rankings are based on construction in progress, the capitalized amount for plant and structures construction that has not been completed during the year. Data are the latest available audited results from 10-K and corporate annual reports.

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